Career 101

Four Things you can Learn from Millennials

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In a world full of brands and labels, millennials seem to have earned the reputation as the easy-go-lucky generation who have nothing to offer but their fussiness on fashion, trends and superficial social media inclination.

In their own words, they are the generation of “no chill” (reckless and irrational behavior or lack of self-control), “thirsty” (wanting something so bad, too eager and desperate) and “turnt” (always ready to party).FullSizeRender

Thus no wonder that people keep “throwing shade” (trash talk or give disapproval) at them.

But in their own rights, millennials can claim to be the “GOAT” (greatest of all time), “woke” who are socially and politically aware or simply “smol” (someone who is extremely small and cute).

But nah! They also dream to make the world a better place like the infamous heroes we all knew of.

Having spent many years of my life leading and working with millennials or those twenty-somethings (born to older Gen X’ers in the year 1980’s to 2000’s), I have come to realize and appreciate many things that are unique to this generation.

I have jotted down four things that speak of their character, behavior and attitude towards themselves and others, which can be beneficial for any business or organization:

1. They are “Daring.” How dare you think this is only about physical attributes!? Of course, the daring-ness of the youth goes beyond their just revealing fashion and provocative self-expression. Millennials are bold about their thoughts and feelings, and always have the courage to take risk. They face problems without worry or fear and without being too concerned about the consequences of their actions and decisions. And when they fail, they simply pick up their pieces and try out again. Who would have known that the many things we enjoy today were possible it were not for millennials who are never afraid to dare?

2. Can do Multi-tasking. Millennials’ mind are like computers programmed to process several tasks concurrently. They have the capacity to maximize their time by thinking while keeping their hands busy and accommodate multiple demands especially at work. They have mastered the art of juggling a full-time job, home-making and studying all at the same time. And being productive in all these areas!

3. Well-Connected and Engaging. Relationships and social life are important to the young. You cannot confine them in a box. They spend time to talk to people, make friends and develop networks. They find spaces where they could express themselves and contribute their skills. They can easily connect with one another under common persuasions such as art, technology, trends and language. Young professionals can be more productive if they are in a company of people who they feel comfortable and can relate with.

4. Always Wanting. Theirs is a hungry generation always wanting for something new. They love to innovate new things, explore new paths and try new challenges. They are oozing with energy, dynamism and fresh ideas. They have many dreams and expectations for themselves and they work so hard to achieve them, which has brought many young individuals to the world of success and fame.

Though misunderstood most of the time, it is undeniable that millennials comprise a big portion of the workforce and society. Many of the things that have drastically changed the course of history – be it in the field of business, education, politics, culture and the arts – were born out of these young, bold and daring minds.

Working with this generation requires the use of certain language, attitude and yes, tons of patience.

The truth is, millennials are not without issues and struggles. But they can be the most productive generation if given proper perspective, guidance, training and opportunity to better contribute and express themselves.

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Thinking Over a Job Offer? Here are Smart Things to Consider

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accept-and-refuse-keys-10094987Are you a first-time applicant torn between a high-paying job and doing something you’re passionate about? Or a veteran employee who has been in the business for couple of years now – enjoying your work and loving your boss – but looking for an environment that can offer you security of tenure or elevate you to a higher post?

These are always a tricky situation.

Every employee finds himself/herself at the intersection of what he/she wants and what the company needs. But the stark truth is, the disparity is just so big that we normally end up with what choices are available rather than what we actually want to do.

And while there is not a single company that can meet all of your expectations – or at the very least they are very difficult to find – your decision on what job to accept can be defined by your set of priorities. This entails a lot of time in finding your purpose and understanding your desires.

Ask yourself how you can be most effective and what you want your career to give you in return. Consider these S-M-A-R-T things and weigh them up based on your priorities:

S-hift Schedule. Are you a young mom who needs to watch over your toddler at school or a working student who has to attend weekend classes? Then cyclical schedule doesn’t work best for you. BPO companies especially call centers normally have shifting schedules that require you to work during the night or any day of the week. Consider getting a job that can give you fixed schedules so you can accommodate your personal responsibilities.

M-onetary Rewards. If you’re the head of the family or a bread winner, chances are this is a major consideration for you. Take time to know how much salary and benefits you need in order to cover your living expenses and earn a decent income to support your needs. Salary scheme may vary depending on your “market value” and the type of industry you’re into. Assess how much you’re worth commensurate with your qualifications, experiences and the nature of work being offered to you.

A-lignment. This may be defined by your educational background or something that you’re passionate about such as your interests and skills. Either to stick with a job that is related to what you have studied in college or what you just love to do is a choice you have to make. Though for me personally, it doesn’t really matter so long as you are able to find a sense of fulfilment in it.

R-etention and Growth Opportunities. Is the company that wants to hire you financially stable? Does it have clear structures that can offer you opportunities to be elevated to a higher post? Ask your employer about how it generates its revenue and the chances of you getting promoted in the future. Get to know about the company culture such as its general population, work dynamics and its training and development programs that can help you grow both as a professional and as a person.

T-ravel Time (Proximity). Calculate how much time and transportation fare you would have to spend to get to your work place. Considering something close to your home will not only save you money but also time. Moving out from your parent’s house and renting a small apartment around your workplace can be a little expensive, but this can give you a total sense of independence.

There’s too many reasons whether to accept or turn down a job offer. The things I mentioned above are just some of them and money is definitely not the only one. For most people, there’s more than just about salary and monetary benefits.

You need to factor in how the job would impact your life in general – your personal responsibilities, your interests and things that you value the most. Evaluate the job offers you have and compare them with your set of priorities. Then pick the one that matches the most with your list!

Here’s the bigger picture (something to ponder):

There is a big gap between the number of graduates and the available employment opportunities in the Philippines. Thus, the high rates of underemployment and unemployment. According to a survey, the number of unemployed Filipinos in the last quarter of 2013 was around 12 million. This includes a handful of college graduates.

So to choose whether to accept or refuse a job offer has just become a matter of privilege.

Five Most Common Interview Questions and their Suggested Answers

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Knowing the necessary preparations and proper attitude during interview is important, but the result of your application still boils down to how well you respond to interview questions. And while you can’t anticipate what exactly are to be asked during interview, fortunately there are some standard questions that most companies use during the process.

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Being familiar with the five common interview questions, coupled with serious practice, can help you become more adept and eloquent in your responses. Try these suggested pitches and see your interviewer drop his jaw if not hiring you for the job:

1. TELL ME SOMETHING ABOUT YOURSELF. Normally, interviewers use this line to jumpstart the conversation or to break the ice. What’s difficult with this question is that it’s too broad and causes one to ramble around in finding the starting point for the introduction.

Avoid saying or repeating what is already obvious in your resume like your name, address, educational background or work experience (you will have the chance to walk through it later). Try to think outside the box and do away with uttering canned lines like that of the overused career objective: “looking for a rewarding career where you can impart your knowledge and attain professional growth.”

Suggested Pitch: Tell something interesting about you that is beyond your resume. Giving a brief description about your personality and your strongest competency can capture the interviewer’s attention and establish an impression. Whether you are a first-timer or a seasoned applicant, you can cite a personal story about your past experiences that maybe relevant to the job, which can set the tone of the interview and lead to a conversation.

2. WHY DO YOU WANT THIS JOB? Saying that you were just referred by a friend or bumped into the job posting but doesn’t know anything about the job is definitely not the best way to go. Sure you’re badly in need of work to augment your finances, but don’t focus only on your personal needs.

Suggested Pitch: Concretely express your personal expectations from your target career and persuade the hiring manager that their company is the kind of company you have been looking for and wanted to be in. But even more importantly, emphasize how the company can benefit from you by highlighting your competencies that can work for their advantage. Say if they need a marketing person to increase their sales, delve into your interest in people or the networks or connections you have; or your problem-solving skills in dealing with difficult situations.

3. TELL SOMETHING ABOUT YOUR MOST CHALLENGING EXPERIENCE. This is quite a tricky question as it can vary from different aspects of your life –personal, academic or professional. Whatever experience you want to share, be careful with your answers as it can reveal the kind of person you are, your beliefs, outlook and approach to certain situations. And try not to be emotional when spilling out your lines!

Suggested Pitch: Though the safest answer would be something about work, you can also tread on to the greatest obstacle you experienced in the past such as flunking your subject during college, shifting to another course or having to resign from your previous work. Describe the situation but don’t get yourself fixated with the problem itself. Specify the things you had done to get through it, your personal realizations and how it had made you a better person you are today. After all, we all learn by experience!

4. WHAT’S YOUR EDGE TO THE OTHER CANDIDATES? The more direct question for this would be “Why should we hire you?” Don’t try to downplay other applicants by saying things that you think they don’t have. Instead, focus more on what your uniqueness and why you deserve to be hired for the position.

Suggested Pitch:  Highlight your skills and downplay your weaknesses. Review the skills requirement of the position in the advertisement and emphasize the strongest competencies you have that match with the said requirements.  Cite your professional achievements, your unique work management style and the experiences you have acquired through the years.

5. HOW DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN THE NEXT FIVE YEARS? This question is congruent to how long you plan to stay with the company. While companies are concerned about retention, don’t try to make a false impression by saying that you can stay there for the rest of your life (believe me, even the hiring manager doesn’t have plans to do so). Don’t even say something that can make the interviewer think that you just want to make the company a stepping stone to working abroad or for a company that’s considered their competitor, which can post a conflict of interest.

Suggested Pitch: Be honest with your plans but at a certain extent. Say something that puts the company in the picture like you plan to grow in your career and be financially stable, which you think you can attain by working with this company. Tell something about your plans for personal growth such as getting promoted to a lead position in the future and enumerate action plans you have to achieve this goal.

Remember that these are just some of the basic questions. They can be peppered with follow up questions based on your responses so always be ready. And remember to be consistent with your answers and avoid contradicting thoughts that may spark doubt from your interviewer.

You’re just at the doorstep of your dream job, so relax and let it flow. Good luck!

Attending a Job Interview? NEVER Go Unprepared.

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There’s a saying “you can only make a first impression once.” If this is so, then you better make the most out of it. The same principle applies when you are applying for a job. You have but one chance to impress your interviewer and get your dream job!

As it is with any fight, don’t hit the battleground without being equipped with the necessary armour to face the giant. I’ve listed down some practical tips to keep in mind before and during a job interview:Prepared Not Unprepared

Read and Review Facts. How much you know about the company and the position you’re applying for signifies your seriousness with the job. While interviewers normally walk the applicant through some important company information, they would still let you “sing that tune” for them to see how prepared you are for the interview. Get some help from the internet to look for the company website and review important information such as its profile, nature of business and processes.

Practice Your Communication Skills. We can’t overstress how practice makes perfect. Enhance your communication skills by practicing your spiels such as how you would introduce yourself, your objectives, your strength and your skills (we will tackle on a separate topic “what to say” and “not to say” during interviews). Try to do a mock-interview with your friend or converse with yourself by speaking your thoughts out loud in front of the mirror – though that may sound like you’ve gone mad J  

Wear Appropriate Attire. In most occasions, corporate or business attire is required to wear during interviews. This may vary depending on the nature of work or the type of company you’re applying for. But regardless of the circumstances, make yourself look as decent as possible and put that “cloak” of professional feeling on. I’m sure you don’t want to scare away your interviewer of your looks! J

Give Some Courtesies. Being on time is the number one rule of courtesy! Coming in late on your interview sends a negative impression right away no matter how extenuating the circumstances maybe. Research for directions and anticipate the required travel time (including traffic).

Flash a smile even if your interviewer looks intimidating. This creates the initial connection and sets the mood out there. When entering the interview cubicle, wait for your interviewer to offer you a seat. This is not a power-tripping or what, but a common courtesy just as when you are visiting someone else’s house.

Stop, Look and Listen. This is not a traffic rule of sort. It simply means: STOP unnecessary gestures, LOOK at the Eye and LISTEN Attentively. This is to avoid causing any distraction during the course of interview. Psychologically speaking, keeping an eye-contact signifies your sincerity with your responses. And by listening attentively, you are able to pay attention to important details and respond accordingly.

Speak with Confidence and Clarity. It is normal to feel nervous for a couple of seconds or so. But don’t let the butterflies in your tummy blow things out of proportion. Compose your thoughts and speak as clearly and briefly as possible. Some applicants tend to impress their interviewer with flowery utterances. This may work at some point but make sure not to miss the target.

Be Truthful and Honest. Build up yourself but never lie or exaggerate for the sake of pleasing. Give accurate information about your skills and competencies in order to help your interviewer match you with the requirements of the job. But also be honest with your limitations and areas for improvement in order to set the ground with your target employer. Remember that giving false information may also have serious implications later on with your work and could be used against you.

Ask Questions. Interviewers would normally let you ask questions or clarification at the end of the interview. If they don’t, you can bring it up politely without sounding too imposing. Clarify the “gray areas” of your discussions especially those that are of serious concern to you. In this way, you can gauge if you would still want to pursue your application later on or help you decide should you get an offer from another company.

Remember that you just have one chance to impress your target employer. There are hundreds of same specie as you in the battlefield so you better be prepared. But also remember to manage your expectations so even if you come home wounded, at least you’ve fought a good fight!

Applying for a JOB? Get Yourself Noticed by Employers

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fsYou probably are a fresh graduate or a career-hopper looking for new job. Sure you have different motivations and goals why you want this job. You do so think you have what it takes to get hired – a good academic credential, impressive professional background, significant trainings and not to mention of your average good-looks, a not-so-very-pleasant personality that is.

Whatever it is, you have to go through the application process and spark good impression to attract your target employer. Here are few tips I learned from my experience in human resources on how you can be considered in the shortlist of potential candidates:

Customize your resume and cover letter. Some employers are very particular with the format of your resume and your writing style (we will tackle on a separate topic the difference between a “Curriculum Vitae” and a resume; and the perfect pitch for your cover letter). This will help them gauge if the candidate is really interested and serious with his/her application.

Check the accuracy of information on your resume such as dates, spellings, contact details, etc. Use formats and fonts that are not too hurting to the eye (don’t forget to include a decent photo of yourself). Be honest and truthful about the things you put on your document in order to help the employer assess if you’re match with the job.

In preparing your cover letter, avoid using “canned” or generic lines. Candidates tend to overuse certain expressions that have no significance in the application. Come up with a brief summary of your qualifications and mention in your letter why they are significant in your application.

A well-crafted application establishes the initial connection between you and your target employer.

Review and highlight your skills. Assess your key competencies, strengths and skills. Compare them against the qualifications of the position you wish to apply for. There may be some skills, whether interpersonal or technical, that you have to be proficient with in order to apply for the job.

If you are applying for an IT or computer-related positions for example, specify the software and programming languages you’re proficient with such as C++, JavaScript, HTML, etc. Accounting and Human Resource positions also require certain knowledge on systems they use to execute their daily work processes and functions.

You can also indicate the business knowledge you acquired from your previous job that has relevance to your desired position. If you are a fresh graduate with no work experience at all, you can include certain seminars and programs you have participated in during your College as well as significant positions you handed in your school organizations and other extra-curricular involvement.

Filter your options. Review the qualifications of the position you want to apply for including the academic requirement, job description and years of experience required for the job. Apply only for positions which you think are commensurate with your background.

Sure you are willing to learn and be trained. But there are companies that specifically require an experienced applicant so they only have to invest a little for training programs. Look for annotations in the job posting if there’s anything that says “fresh grads are welcome to apply” or “no experience required.”

Think also of your personal considerations such as shift schedule, location and salary before applying for the job. Not only will it save you time and money for attending interviews, but also help you find a job that is more fit both with your qualifications and expectations.

Explore application boosters. If you’re applying through an online job portal, chances are your application is swimming in the ocean of many other applicants. Look for some features that may help elevate you as “priority” candidate. These may require certain fees though, but will surely put you on top of the bucket and make you an apple of the eye.

Some professional networking sites such as LinkedIn also have features that allow your networks to rate your skills and recommend you for the job. Ask the people who know you well such as those who you have worked with to vouch for you and give their recommendation.

These boosters may work for certain extent but doesn’t guarantee you “employability”. It could help you set your one foot forward but your qualifications, attitude and performance during interview are what matters most.

Review the application details. You’re almost ready to start your quest. Review the details of the job posting before you hit the button: does it require you to send your application through email, company website or through the job portal? Follow the instructions and make sure you let your documents reach the appropriate person that will facilitate the processing.

Now, wait and watch your target employer drooling at your application! Keep your communication line open for possible contacts from the sourcing specialists. Check your mobile phone and mailbox regularly for interview invitations and make sure to make timely responses.

You are just one step closer to your dream job. Good luck!